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Self-obsessed autocrats and their bizarre rules

Dictators and their destruction (Representational Image) Photograph: (WION)

WION Delhi, India Oct 06, 2016, 10.05 AM (IST) WION Edge

While the concept of a democratic government is over two centuries old, modern history has witnessed the rise of some of the most oppressive dictators. Self-absorbed and narcissistic, these are the some of the craziest autocrats who implemented bizarre rules under their reign:

  • Saparmurat Niyazov:

Turkmenistan’s Niyazov was one of the most self-obsessed dictators of all times. He gave himself the title of Turkmenbashi- meaning Leader of All Ethnic Turkmen and went on to declare himself president of the country for life. Niyazov created a new image for the country, where he named all public spaces, from streets to landmarks, after himself.

What’s bizarre:
Every clock or watch in Turkmenistan had his face
Young men were forbidden to grow long hair and beards
Music was banned in the country

A statue of Turkmenistan's former President Saparmurad Niyazov in Asghaban (AFP)



  • Kim Il Sung:

Since his appointment as the Supreme Leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea), Kim’s forces took some 200,000 political prisoners, who were kept in concentration camps. North Korea lacked freedom of the press, religion, political opposition and education. Kim lived a life of luxury, while the country faced severe economic sanctions.

What’s bizarre:
Kim ate sushi, especially flown in from Japan
Followers were made to believe that their ‘Dear Leader’ neither urinates nor defecates, and has the power to control the weather

North Korean military officers and citizens holding a rally to celebrate the September 9 nuclear warhead test in Kim Il-Sung Square in Pyongyang (AFP)



  • Idi Amin Dada:

Third president of Uganda, Amin led a military coup to gain absolute power after promoting himself as head of the state. He was often perceived as mentally unstable as his regime was characterised with corruption, nepotism, oppression and mass killings. The casualties range between 80,000 and 500,000, with many of them being meted out systematic torture.

What’s bizarre:
Reports claim that he ate his enemies and even fed them to crocodiles
Wrote love letters to Queen Elizabeth

Uganda People`s Defence Force (UPDF) march during the celebration to mark the fall of Idi Amin Dada 11 April 2002. (AFP)



  • Nicolae Ceausescu:

Like other self-obsessed dictators of his kind, Nicolae was fond of giving himself titles such as “Conducator” meaning Leader and “Geniul din Carpa?i” meaning The Genius of the Carpathians. He even created an executive presidency and had a scepter made for himself like a king.

What’s bizarre:
He carried out destruction of 19 churches, six synagogues and 30,000 homes to build a palace for himself. It cost the Romanian treasury a total of $10 billion

Gold buttons belonging to Nicolae Ceausescu are exhibited at an auction in Bucharest (AFP)



  • Mao Zedong:

Mao Zedong, the founding father of the People’s Republic of China experimented with China’s economy, resulting in severe financial losses. His policy ‘Great Leap Forward’ shifted the country from an agrarian economy to a manufacturing one, by pulling out farmers from the field and assigning them to mill steel. Millions died after this, due to starvation.

What’s bizarre:
Launched the Cultural Revolution, which led to the elimination of the country’s intelligentsia and his political opponents
Academics suffered and teachers were forced out of schools and colleges
Set up the ‘Red Guards’ enlisting youth to correct the bourgeois elements in China’s society
Considered himself to be the only genius in the country

Cantonese opera actors dressed as Red Guards perform in a show portraying late Chinese communist leader Mao Zedong (AFP)



(Contributed by: Zeba Khan)

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